Last Thursday, the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences awarded Geography Alum R. Clayton Brough with the Alumni Achievement Award. Brough is a graduate of the College’s bachelor (‘73) and masters (‘75) programs of geography, though with the ease and eloquence that he delivered his lecture it was evident that he’d had many years of practice in front of cameras and crowds as a schoolteacher and weekend climatologist for ABC 4. Brough shared with us valuable lessons accompanied by entertaining anecdotes of his life, while bringing an encouraging spirit into the room during his lecture “5 Lessons I’ve Learned in 50 Years.”
Lesson 1: Think Carefully before You Agree to the Wishes of Others
In opposition to the culture of ‘sending it,’ Brough encourages his listeners to “not push send until you’ve thought of the end.” Giving us a very real and very comical example of a mistake he made while here at BYU that led to people believing he had married his sister, Brough reminded us that even innocent good deeds could not end well if the end is not thought through first.
Lesson 2: Don’t Leave Home without a GPS Receiver
Throwing it back to the good ol’ days of no Google, no Siri, and a hard-to-read paper map, Brough related his experience as a young Geography student to the importance of remembering to take our spiritual guides with us wherever we go. On an assignment to map Utah County, Brough and partner accidentally found themselves in the middle of the Dugway Proving Ground, a military training area where new tactics and technology are tested. Whether it be the still small voice or the strict direction of Siri, sometimes in life it takes a couple of wrong turns in life to realize how important it is to have a way to get back to the right place.
Lesson 3: Nourish a Good and Clean Sense of Humor
A good sense of humor is not just a fun personality trait, but was extremely beneficial for Brough when he dealt with negative comments during his time as a forecaster. Brough emphasized the importance of being nice, and, again, thinking before you send.
Lesson 4: Find Happiness through Serving Others Including Those on Both Sides of the Veil
The cheerful buzz in the room paused for just one moment as Brough recalled the cancer diagnosis of both he and his son. Brough, however, is grateful for the opportunity he had to reprioritize the things in his life. Cancer caused him to slow down and appreciate his family and the eternal significance of everything in this life. This focus sparked Brough’s passion for genealogy and family history work, something he and his wife Ethel Mickelson now do together.
Lesson 5: If You want to be Successful, Dream Big, Work Hard, and Pray Often
Brough spent 30 years working with students and in that time learned that we must allow even the youngest students to dream big and think outside the box. Students at Eisenhower Junior High proved to be a testament of that as the holders of seven world records. A feat made possible by a handful of creativity, a spoonful of studiousness, and a dash of daring dreams.
Clayton Brough ended as he started, encouraging us to keep a sense of humor and remember to serve. Brough has since retired and now works at the Counselling Center at Copper Hills High School in West Jordan, Utah.